Halifax puts 5 cent deposit on the chopping block

City council is considering changing how people recycle in Halifax and how much money they get back for their empty bottles

The five-cent bottle deposit could be nixed in Halifax.

City council is considering changing how people recycle in Halifax and how much money they get back for their empty bottles.

This week council will discuss a staff report that proposes putting returnables in blue bags instead of taking them to Enviro-Depots scattered around the city.

The city estimates the rising costs of running the Resource Recovery Fund Board could mean a loss of $1 million a year for the HRM.

The money squeeze is spawning new ideas about what should happen next.

The provincial authority that oversees recycling is proposing people pay an extra 10 cents for each glass bottle they buy, but they'd still get five cents back when they took the empty bottle to an depot.

But city staff is proposing patrons pay a five-cent tax on beverage containers like they do now, but there would no longer be a return.

Instead people would put them at the end of their driveways along with the rest of their recycling destined for the city's sorting station.

"The municipalities are mandated and legislated to conduct recycling at the end of the curb so the system already exists,  whereas when the enviro-depots were created it didn't. So there is in fact a duplication of legislated municipal operations," said Gord Helm with HRM Solid Waste Resources.

Jobs on the line

Art Tanner, an Enviro-Depots owner, said the city's proposal could put him out of business.

"I don't understand why they want to take it over themselves because it's going to create less jobs," he said.

The change would mean recyclers like Joanne Johnson would have less pocket money.

"I think you have to encourage people to recycle no matter what because they can get into a kind of helpless attitude," she said.

It would also cut down on the amount curbside scavenging.

Mel Boutilier, who runs the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank in the city's north end, said that's a critical way for some people to make money.

"Some of them depend on that to pay some of their bills so I'd know it would be a hardship on a number of the people who come here," he said.

The city would have to ask the provincial government to eliminate the deposit.